By Ebi Kesiena
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso has announced that some 5,000 prisoners would be pardoned to reduce overcrowding in the country’s prisons, which were hit with riots that left more than 320 inmates dead in 2021.
According to Lasso the aim is to end overcrowding by the end of the year and thus have a much more favorable environment for security and for social rehabilitation inside the prisons
“I hope that at least 5,000 people deprived of their freedom will be released,” the President told reporters.
Ecuador’s 65 prisons have the capacity for 30,000 inmates but house some 39,000, equivalent to 30 percent overcrowding.
Some 15,000 of the prisoners have not been sentenced.
More than 320 inmates were killed in 2021 in a surge of violence blamed on fighting between rival drug groups in Ecuador, nestled between the world’s biggest cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru.
Lasso signed a decree recently to establish the conditions and system for pardons.
The local media however reports that the effort will target prisoners charged with theft, fraud or breach of trust.